Woodrow Wilson, former President of the United States whose family came from Strabane, once described golf as “a game in which one endeavours to control a ball with implements ill-adapted for the purpose”.
This is a view shared by millions of amateur golfers as they struggle to perfect the finer points of the game. But golfers of the 21st century have it easy in comparison to the primitive conditions and equipment experienced in previous generations. From mashie, brassy and stymie to the metal mickey and rescue clubs of today.
Golf in Strabane is 100 years old this week (14 December 2008). In the year 1908 Strabane was a market town of 5,000 people, with a rail service to Derry, Letterkenny, Donegal and Dublin. The Town Hall had recently been re-styled at a cost of £2,000. Markets were held monthly, fairs were held four times per year, and twice a year for hiring labour. That year the Steamboat Company announced profit on trading on the canal. A new Technical College had opened at Upper Main Street and a new parochial school had been erected by the Duke of Abercorn in Bowling Green.
In fact it was in this building that a group of prominent professional and business people met on the evening of Monday 14 December 1908. The meeting had been convened by Mr. Thomas Elliott a solicitor with premises in Abercorn Square. There was a single item on the agenda of the meeting. This group was to set up a club to promote the amateur game of golf amongst its members by providing a course and clubhouse facilities.
The Duke of Abercorn was invited to be the first President, Mr. W.B. Smyth was elected Captain and Mr. L.J. Passmore took on the role of Club Secretary.
The annual subscription fee was set at £1.1.0 (one guinea)
The committee was then set the task of finding a suitable location to establish the golf course, in the hope that it might be ready for the playing season to begin in April 1909.
The caption on this photo reads: “Members and friends of Strabane Golf Club who competed in competition for the Prince of Wales War and Relief Fund.” This picture was taken on Saturday 26 September 1914.